Fanatics Massachusetts sportsbook licensing hearing set to continue next week

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Massachusetts regulators will continue reviewing the license for the coming Fanatics mobile sportsbook next week after pressing the soon-to-launch offering on a wide range of issues Thursday.

After Fanatics officials presented their application at a public meeting of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission Wednesday, commissioners discussed the prospective operator at length Thursday. The MGC adjourned without a decision Thursday afternoon and agreed to continue discussions at another public meeting beginning next Wednesday.

As they had with other mobile applicants, commissioners pressed Fanatics on responsible gaming, marketing practices and a host of other issues for the sportsbook, which has yet to launch in any state. Fanatics, like all other applicants so far, is expected to earn a license.

Fanatics details

This week’s meetings provided the first glimpse into the much anticipated Fanatics sportsbook.

Fanatics, best known to most Americans as a leading sports regalia and memorabilia retailer, has worked for several years to launch its sports betting platform. The company has high-profile deals with virtually all major US professional sports teams and leagues as well as most high-profile NCAA members to go along with a database the company says exceeds 80m people.

These deals and the database will help Fanatics stand out in the already crowded US sports betting landscape, company officials said during MGC hearings this week.

The company for the first time also announced publicly it would use code from sports betting data supplier Amelco as its primary tech platform. The UK-based data supplier also helps power Hard Rock Sportsbook, WynnBet, FOX Bet and the Arkansas-only BetSaracen, as well as the now-defunct FUBO sportsbook.

Fanatics could be Amelco’s most significant US partner yet. The public announcement of the deal with Fanatics led to a sharp drop in rival supplier Kambi’s stock Thursday morning.

The Fanatics sportsbook has already been approved in Maryland and Ohio. The company is already in the licensing process in five other states, officials said earlier this week, and could be taking bets in more than a dozen by the 2023 football season.

Massachusetts takes shape

Company officials Wednesday said they hoped to launch in Massachusetts by March, roughly in conjunction with the state’s other licensed sportsbooks. The MGC has not given a firm online launch date but the first mobile books are expected to start accepting wagers before the start of the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Fanatics would join BetMGM, Caesars, WynnBet and Barstool Sportsbook among licensed operators in Massachusetts. All of these sportsbooks have partnered with an existing land-based casino in the state for mobile wagering; BetMGM with MGM Springfield, Caesars and WynnBet with Wynn’s Encore Boston Harbor and Fanatics and Barstool with Penn Entertainment’s Plainridge Park.

After discussing sportsbooks partnered with brick-and-mortar casinos, Massachusetts regulators are set to review seven additional sportsbooks in the coming weeks. That includes FanDuel and Boston-based DraftKings, the top two US sportsbooks by handle market share.

Bet365, a European gaming giant that has so far had little presence in the US, is also among the group of applicants. If approved before the March launch date, it could be just the second state bet365 has started taking bets in as the same time as its competitors, following Ohio, which started taking bets Jan. 1.

Other national brands including PointsBet, Bally Bet and Betway are also up for review. Betr, a micro-betting-focused operator that has yet to launch in any state, has also applied for a license.

About the author

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Ryan Butler

Ryan is a veteran sports betting and iGaming regulation and breaking news journalist based in the US. A two-time Associated Press Sports Editors award winner, he has reported on sports and politics since 2012. He has covered the gaming industry since 2018. Ryan graduated from the University of Florida with a major in Journalism and a minor in Sport Management.

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